May’s First week in Ghana – Program Planning to Meet Youth Needs

Today is Wednesday May 29th, our second official work day in Takoradi which came right after a relaxing long weekend in celebration of African Union Day. Our first two days so far have consisted of organizing and discussing our work schedule for the next couple of weeks along with meeting the YCI stakeholders and partners of these projects.

Today began with a scheduled meeting with the Regional Coordinator of the National Youth Authority (NYA), Mr. Papa Assan. The NYA is a branch of the Department of Youth and Sports in Ghana responsible for implementing and overseeing various policies and programs aimed at empowering Ghanaian Youth in the areas of education, employment, environment, Health and HIV/AIDS, just to name a few – all of which aligns with the focus areas of many of YCI’s projects as well.

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On Tuesday we also met with Ghana Education Service (GES), a branch of the Ministry of Education. The purpose of the meeting was to acquire permission from the Metro Director of Education, Mr. Nana Imbeah to allow us to work with the schools in Takoradi. This is a requirement that all NGO’s and private organizations working with the schools in the community must attain before they start any projects. The meeting went very well and we acquired the approval with flying colours – the officials were very enthusiastic about the YCI projects we have planned.

One thing I really appreciate so far about these last couple days were the meetings with the GES and the NYA and the active involvement of the government with YCI projects in Takoradi. As an NGO, YCI places strong emphasis on the engagement of members within the communities and on their partnerships which includes the Government. The fact that we sought permission of the government before we proceeded with our work with the schools, really shows how much value YCI places on aligning our work with the expectations of the communities we are working in before any work is done. This greatly reassures me as a non-local that my work here has been approved by the people that will be benefiting the most from it – the youth.

Here is an overview of the projects we have planned in Takoradi, which is the Western Region of Ghana also known as ‘Oil City’.

1. Personal Hygiene Workshop: This workshop will be focused on educating men and women in three selected schools in Takoradi about the best ways to wash hands along with personal, food and kitchen hygiene best practices in an effort to prevent prevalent diseases such as cholera and diarrhea, among others.

2. Environmental Iniatives: We will be creating workshops focusing on waste collection, waste management and recycling plastic in 3 selected schools working alongside waste management companies in the area. The initiative is also aimed at helping to establish environmental groups in each of the selected schools which will be responsible for organizing activities such as clean-up days and tree-plantings as well as sustaining environmental awareness within the schools.

3. Research on Youth Entrepreneurship: Working alongside our partner YMCA and local volunteers, we will be conducting a baseline questionnaire with local young entrepreneurs to find out more about their experiences, challenges and successes with starting their own businesses. The questionnaire will be analyzed to produce a report. The report then will inform the next group of volunteers who will design workshops addressing the findings of the surveys in terms of types of training and information the entrepreneurs could benefit from, e.g. how to write a business plan or ways of attaining capital to start a business.

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